Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Simon & Schuster Take The Self-Publishing Train - Mind The Step!


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It was not the most lengthy press release today, but news that big six publisher Simon & Schuster has dipped its feet into the self-publishing arena with Author Solutions Inc. is significant only in relation to the fact that it has been in the pipeline for a while. The recent purchase of ASI by Pearson may have kept the news at bay a little longer than S&S planned, but make no mistake, it was always on the cards that one of the big six would bite the bullet and take up ASI on a self-publishing partnership. Ever since its partnerships with Harlequin and Thomas Nelson three years ago, ASI has been gunning for a really big fish. Breaking this news a few weeks ago might have raised a few more eyebrows in light of Pearson's purchase of ASI and nestling it in with Simon & Schuster competitor, Penguin. Now the dust has settled on that deal, it would not have made much sense to delay the announcement until early 2013.

The press release tells us that Simon & Schuster's self-publishing imprint will have a specific focus on fiction, nonfiction, business and children's genres. If memory serves me correct, S&S has repeated an exercise Thomas Nelson executed with WestBow, by resurrecting and recycling an older imprint (Archway) as the new self-publishing imprint. Funny, Harlequin were hung, drawn and quartered back in 2009 for attempting to even make the slightest connection between their traditional arm and the self-publishing imprint, so much so, under a wave of irate authors and negative publicity, it changed the imprint name entirely and completely re-jigged the imprint's website. How times change. The S&S logo is very much a part of the Archway Publishing logo.

S&S CEO, Carolyn Reidy, pulls no punches as to how she sees Archway Publishing operate as part of the S&S strategy. Mind you, we can argue the toss as to how many self-published authors see their path leading to the gateway of traditional publishing. Like many self-publishing imprints set up by traditional publishers over the past three years, very few of its authors go on to grace the lists of the mothership. This is the way forward for large publishers to monetize the submission slush pile, tap into the cream of big-sale self-publishers, while still allowing them to wear the hat that says:

We are the book makers... and we are the curators of literature. Your destiny is safe in our hands.


Billed as 'the premier publishing solution,' Archway Publishing will offer editing, design, distribution and marketing services through ASI. S&S is eager to try and differentiate itself from previous ASI self-publishing partnerships with large publishers by also providing some exclusive offers outside of ASI. A Concierge Service will allow an author the option of working with a publishing guide throughout the process. Ahem...but isn't that what ASI and many other self-publishing providers hard sell to prospective authors from the off? Also offered as an exclusive is inclusion in the Edelweiss catalogue (an industry catalogue) and access to Speakers Bureau (a platform for the promotion of expert speakers via appearances and video book trailers). Speakers Bureau is an industry leader focussed platform, and if Cara Posey's (CMO and incessant girl at the front of the class with her hand up all the time ) comments on Publishers Weekly today  are anything to go by, I think I'll be giving them a miss.  

Fiction and nonfiction packages with Archway Publishing are pitched at $1999 to $14999, with a business package up to $24999, then the prices are much in line with other ASI packages on offer from WestBow Press and DellArte Press. Royalties from Archway are set at 50% of net receipts and contract rights are non-exclusive. Packages include paper and ebook editions and marketing looks pretty limited if you look at this FAQ page from Archway. A case of - you're on your own, mate, now you've paid us the money.

If one thing stands out from so many of ASI's partnerships with traditional publishers over the past few years - it's that nothing stands out! The packages - in light of self-publishing by today's standards - are expensive and likely only to appeal to authors new to the self-publishing woods, believing the imprints are an inherent part of the publisher's in-house operation. This is no Book Country - Penguin's stab at a self-publishing imprint, and run in-house by the publisher and its staff. Day to day business at Archway Publishing will be conducted via ASI's Bloomington, Indiana offices. It will be interesting - in light of Pearson's takeover of Penguin - how long Book Country will last, and whether its operation will be eventually outsourced to ASI.

Is Archway Publishing the ideal solution for an author? Not by a long way, but it is there for a reason, even if you believe it only serves the interests of the publisher.

No doubt in the coming days we will hear the gnashing of teeth and voices of the naysayers predict the doom of traditional publishing and how the lure of revenue from vanity services for large publishers is destroying the legacy of the industry and exploiting naive authors. And it is all that. If you didn't wake up this morning feeling irked by the news, but feel the frustration coming on now in sickening waves, or maybe you will feel the nausea tomorrow morning, then, all I can ask is - where were you and your frustrations three years ago?

We need to be conducting sound discussion as to why Archway Publishing has been launched by Simon & Schuster; why, despite so much negativity against it, ASI remains the largest self-publishing service provider in the world? So instead of poking our guns down rabbit holes in search of those pesky self-published authors, maybe its time the discussion is properly explored rather than shrugging our shoulders and uttering excuses like pity we're back to the bad old days of vanity publishings.

I think there is a vital need for traditional publishers in this industry - for new and established authors - but I'm just as passionate that there is a place for authors who wish to go it alone without commercial backing who choose to self-publish. There is a little vanity in all authors and it is not unique to self-published authors. We all want to do more than survive. We want to write, and above all, have our books read.

For too long now I've listened to authors within the traditionally published community downgrade self-published authors, and not just because they write and publish poorly edited crap, but that they are also single-handedly responsible for the dilution and disaray within the publishing industry.

The intimation is that every self-published title takes something away from every traditionally published title. It is a bit like suggesting cowboy builders are destroying the construction industry. It is nonsense and in recent years has only served to detract from the real challenges to authors and the greater publishing industry.

If anything, self-published authors - and the service industry that has grown around them - has simply accelerated the changing role of the author. What self-publishing and in particular ebook self-publishing has done is to demystify the role of both author and publisher, although, very clumsily. I sometimes wonder if the greater community of authors does not somehow resent self-published authors and publishing service providers for lifting the lid on the process of publishing and removing its mystique. I'm as wornout with all this self-publishing Konrathesque number-crunching of sales and Amazon rankings as the next author, but if it floats your boat - good luck to you!

The real shift we are seeing in the industry - with the emergence of self-publishing imprints like Archway Publishing, Book Country, WestBow press, Balboa and DellArte Press from large commercial publishers - is the move to content management and service provision. For hundreds of years publishers have been curators of literature, discoverers and champions of new writing talent. This role is slowly changing, certainly with large publishers, and much of the discovery has been pushed out to agents. It is no coincidence that libraries - our curators and custodians of books - are also in decline. Big commercial publishing has always been a case of show me the money, and that's not going to change anytime soon.

I'm sure in the coming days many words will be penned on Simon & Schuster and Archway Publishing and much of the vanity arguments will be rehashed by those tucked away inside the cocoon of the industry. Authors will sign into writing forums and denounce S&S as the devil incarnated, vow to tear up their contracts in protest tomorrow or the day after, or maybe next week, or maybe early next year! Many of the arguments against vanity publishing will be entirely valid and expressed sincerely between fellow authors, but like teenage pregnancies, bad weather, taxes and death, it ain't going away anytime soon.

The only difference now is that somehow the perceived wolf was allowed to take another step closer to the castle. The truth is the wolf has been inside the castle many times and is quickly becoming the publisher's best friend in pretty shaky times.

Publishing is a business and not a place for faint hearts or moral indignation.


[Afterword]
I love the way so many reports of this news has been described - everything from S&S 'licience' and 'help launch,' or 'enter pact' to launch Archway Publishing, as if S&S were some poor victim forced into setting up a self-publishing imprint in a time of duress or war with no real hand in it at all.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323830404578145030174181870.html
http://www.salon.com/2012/11/27/simon_schuster_helps_launch_self_publisher/singleton/
 
Full Review of Archway Publishing to come.

The press release is reproduced in full below:


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Nov. 27, 2012 – Simon & Schuster, Inc., and Author Solutions, Inc., (ASI) today announced the launch of Archway Publishing, a new self-publishing service with a focus on fiction, nonfiction, business and children’s categories.

"Through Archway Publishing, Simon & Schuster is pleased to be part of the rapidly expanding self-publishing segment of our industry," said Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster. "Self-publishing has become a viable and popular route to publication for many authors, and increasingly a source of content for traditional publishers, including Simon & Schuster. We’re excited that we’ll be able to help more authors find their own path to publication and at the same time create a more direct connection to those self-published authors ready to make the leap to traditional publishing."

According to Bowker, self-publishing is one of the fastest growing sectors in the publishing industry, with 211,269 self-published titles (based on ISBNs) released last year, up more than 60 percent from 133,036 titles in 2010. Through ASI, a leading provider of professional self-publishing services, Archway is offering the premier publishing solution for authors interested in achieving their publishing goals and reaching their audiences through self-publishing. Archway Publishing will offer a wide range of editorial, design, distribution and marketing services, provided by Author Solutions to help authors create the highest quality self-published books. In addition, the following services will be Archway Publishing exclusives:

Concierge Service – Authors will have the option to work with a dedicated publishing guide who will coordinate each step of the book production process.

Bookseller Catalog – Archway titles will be included in Edelweiss, the leading, industry-wide online catalog available to major retailers, wholesalers, libraries, bloggers and thousands of industry professionals.

Archway Speakers Bureau – The Archway Speakers Bureau, powered by Speakerfile, helps authors connect to a world of potential speaking opportunities and establish themselves as credible voices in their fields.

 

Premier Video Production and Distribution – Archway authors will have the opportunity to create high-quality videos and book trailers for distribution to major online video networks.

"The collaboration between Simon & Schuster and Author Solutions brings an entirely new level of expertise, experience and opportunity to the marketplace. It truly is the best time in history to be an author," said Author Solutions CEO Kevin Weiss.

For more information about Archway Publishing or to begin publishing a book today, please visit: www.archwaypublishing.com.

ABOUT ARCHWAY PUBLISHING
Archway Publishing is a strategic self-publishing alliance between leading global publisher Simon & Schuster and self-publishing world leader, Author Solutions, Inc., (ASI). For more information about Archway Publishing, please visit www.archwaypublishing.com. For the latest news, follow @ArchwayPub on Twitter and "Like" on Facebook.

ABOUT SIMON & SCHUSTER
Simon & Schuster, part of the CBS Corporation, is a global leader in the field of general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for consumers of all ages, across all printed, electronic and audio formats. Its divisions include Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing, Simon & Schuster Children„ Publishing, Simon & Schuster Audio, Simon & Schuster Digital and international companies in Australia, Canada, India and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.simonandschuster.com.

ABOUT AUTHOR SOLUTIONS, INC.
Author Solutions, Inc., (ASI) is a world leader in indie book publishing. ASI‟ leading self-publishing imprints — AuthorHouse, AuthorHouse UK, iUniverse, Palibrio, Trafford Publishing and Xlibris—have helped more than 150,000 authors self-publish, promote and bring to market more than 190,000 new titles. Through strategic alliances with leading trade publishers, ASI is making it possible to develop new literary talent efficiently and providing authors with a platform for bringing their books to market. Headquartered in Bloomington, Ind., ASI‟ global reach includes imprints developed specifically for authors in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.authorsolutions.com and follow @authorsolutions on Twitter for the latest news.

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1 comment:

  1. brilliant piece...had to read it twice i was smiling and laughing so much..a great commentary on the s&s self-pblishing operation...well done, mick....peter mccluskey

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